Module 7 - AgileSHIFT Roles


AgileSHIFT Online Learning
The AgileSHIFT Team

The course is part of this learning path

The AgileSHIFT Team

Course Description 

The AgileSHIFT framework defines the smallest possible team structure to support and encourage agility which includes the team members who deliver the product or service, the change sponsor and the coach who mentors the people doing the work. This modules looks at all three of these roles, as well as defining the optimum team size for effective communication and looking at the impact of technology on skills. 


Learning Objectives 

The objectives of this course are to provide you with and understanding of: 

  • Effective AgileSHIFT teams 
  • The benefits of self-organizing teams 
  • Team development stages (Tuckman) 
  • Optimum team size for collaboration and communication
  • The AgileSHIFT Coach
  • The AgileSHIFT Sponsor
  • The impact of technology on skills 


Intended Audience 

The target audience for the AgileSHIFT qualification is any employee of an organization that intends to adopt AgileSHIFT. This includes people who will become champions of the new working practice and employees from any part of the business who will contribute to the incremental improvements that will make up the wider change the organization requires. 



There are no specific pre-requisites to study the AgileSHIFT course or for entry to the examination.  



We welcome all feedback and suggestions - please contact us at to let us know what you think. 


We know that it’s the people in an organization who drive change and to do this they need to be able to contribute to small, local activities to help optimize the value the organization delivers.  


The AgileSHIFT framework defines the smallest possible team structure to support and encourage agility. This includes: 

  • The team members – the individuals who deliver the product or service;  

  • The person who sponsors the change; and  

  • The coach who mentors the people doing the work.  


An effective team 

In AgileSHIFT, a team is a group of people who recognize the benefit of working in an agile way. They could be involved in any activity – routine day-to-day administration, delivering a service to a customer or working on an organizational change project. 


AgileSHIFT relies on self-organizing teams – individuals that together own the responsibility and accountability for delivery. There’s no hierarchical structure and, in many cases, there’s no formal team leader or manager (although there might a leader for specific tasks).  


The team is a permanent group that owns the work and value. They exist beyond the work that’s currently being done and continually take on other pieces of work. This is different to a project team, where at the end of work, the team is disbanded.  


Self-organizing teams have a number of benefits: 

  • They’re typically empowered through the autonomy they have;  

  • They share a mutual trust and respect; 

  • They have a strong combined set of competencies; 

  • They have a keen customer focus; and 

  • They generally obtain a high level of satisfaction from their work. 


There are five elements that contribute to the effectiveness of a team, and each one needs to be right if they’re going to function and perform well.  

  • Clear objectives – so the mission and goals must be understood; 

  • Well defined team roles and responsibilities;  

  • Clear processes, methods of operating and ground rules; 

  • Positive interpersonal relationships which support active communication; and 

  • Inter-team relationships which enable strong collaboration – a team can’t be effective if it’s isolated from others in the organization. 


It’s worth mentioning here the team development research done by Dr Bruce Tuckman. He defined five stages of team development through which, as the team develops maturity and ability, relationships are established and the leadership style changes. 


As you can see, there are five key stages; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning. 


Tuckman found that most teams develop through these stages – although some do it quicker than others. But, when the team’s disrupted, say by bringing new people in or taking people out, its effectiveness drops and it reverts to an earlier stage. 


If you want to find out more about this, there’s a link in the Resources Guide. 


Collaboration and communication 

Collaboration relies on effective and regular communication. In AgileSHIFT the optimum team size is an important consideration because of the relationship between the number of people in a team and the complexity of communication. 


So, in a team of three, each team member talks to each other so there are three communication links. In a team of five, each individual talks to four others so there are 10 communication links. And, if the team goes up to nine people, the communication links increase again – to 36 connections between the team members.  


As the team grows, communication becomes more complex. If you want to know the science behind this here’s the equation to work it out: 


So, for a team of 12 people the equation would be 12 x 11 (12 minus 1) all divided by 2 which equals 66. 


AgileSHIFT recommends teams of between three and nine people. Any more than this means communication is too complex which increases the risk of misunderstanding and just makes life more difficult.  


Any less than three people means the task is likely to be small and can best be run in an ad-hoc way – you don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut; the administration complexity of AgileSHIFT ways of working are likely to outweigh the value of using them. 


Before you move on, take a look at the information on the Stages of Team Development in the Resources guide. 

About the Author
Learning Paths

Tony has over 20 years’ experience in Business Development, Business Change, Consulting, and Project/Program Management working with public, private, and third sector organizations.

He has helped organizations to design and create processes and procedures to align ways of working with corporate strategy. A highly motivated and detailed solution provider, utilizing a wide range of methods and frameworks to provide structure whilst promoting creativity and innovation.

As a confident and self-motivated professional with excellent communication skills, Tony is able to bring people together and get them working as a team quickly.

Tony is an Agile and Scrum trainer with a vast knowledge spanning IT Systems, Business Change, Program and Project Management. With excellent presentation skills and a solid background, he ensures that all clients gain maximum benefit from his training. He has successfully guided those new to the industry through their initial training, helped experienced staff as they progress in their careers, and worked at the director level advising on best use and practice, as well as tailoring courses to fulfil the exact needs of clients.